December 2012

Grape Wall Challenge 2012: Summergate, ASC, MQ top wine challenge in China

December 21, 2012 // 1 Comment

~ By Jim Boyce (Note: Sorry for the delay. This blog went offline several days for — to me — unknown reasons and now is back for — to me — unknown reasons. The mysteries of life.) These are wines with the highest scores in the Grape Wall Challenge 2012. The judges were Chinese consumers who are casual wine drinkers. They tasted 40 wines — 20 red and 20 white — that retail for under rmb100 per bottle and ranked each as “love it“, “like it“, “don’t like it” or “hate it“. Grape Wall contributor Nicolas Carre and I separately compiled […]

From cork to screw cap: Three wine closure anecdotes from China

December 14, 2012 // 1 Comment

~ By Jim Boyce While most wine in China — whether domestically produced or imported — is bottled under cork, and while I repeatedly hear this is what consumers want, we are seeing more screw caps. Three recent cases: 1. I saw the above two bottles of China favorite Cabernet Sauvignon in my local corner shop (see full shots below). The wine is from Concha y Toro, a major brand by volume here. The bottle at front right is 2010, the ones at left and in back are 2011. (I mentioned the change  in closures to the employee on duty. […]

Wine consumer power in China: Annual Grape Wall Challenge held in Beijing

December 14, 2012 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce They came, they sniffed, they sipped and they scored. The fourth annual Grape Wall Challenge — which features Chinese consumers judging wines that retail for less than rmb100 — was held yesterday in Beijing at restaurant F by Tribute. Here are a few notes about the event, with the official results to come as soon as I finalize them with fellow blog contributors, on Monday at the very latest. The red wines seemed more consistent and interesting than in previous years. During the post-tasting discussion, the judges cited a Merlot from Chile and a Pinotage from South […]

Going twice: Sotheby’s to auction elBulli wine cellar in Hong Kong, New York

December 14, 2012 // 1 Comment

~ By Jim Boyce Sotheby’s has announced it will auction off the wine cellar of restaurant elBulli — with a pre-sale estimated value of rmb7 million to rmb10 million, not including buyer’s premium — in both Hong Kong and New York. If you told people five years ago that a) elBulli would close in 2011 and b) that Hong Kong would by that time be a fine wine auction hub, they likely would have handed you a glass of sangria jelly or, if things got hostile, reduced you to a foam. From Sotheby’s (my highlights): On 3 April 2013 in […]

China view: Robert Parker sells Wine Advocate stake to Singapore investors

December 11, 2012 // 3 Comments

~ By Jim Boyce Robert Parker might live halfway around the globe but his influence is still felt here in China, where investors and importers regularly cite his scores. In the past few weeks alone, I have been told a half-dozen times — while hemming and hawing over a wine — that Parker gave it 90+ points. (I’ll take a hundred bottles!) Anyway, many in the wine business here will wonder about the future of Parker’s magazine, The Wine Advocate, after news today that he sold a “substantial” share to investors — with no background in wine or publishing — […]

Disease and indecision in Ningxia: Poor grape harvest tests wine industry

December 6, 2012 // 0 Comments

~ By Jim Boyce Ningxia has seen its fortunes rise dramatically in the past year: the region has performed well in tastings, gained observer status in the OIV, and seen an influx of wine makers, writers, consultants and investors. Not surprisingly, there are high hopes for Vintage 2012. Fulfilling such hopes, however, will be extremely difficult in the face of a poor harvest and it will be intriguing to see how the wine sector reacts. Abnormally high rainfall and warm temperatures paired to turn some vineyards into figurative petri dishes for diseases, particularly downy mildew. I have talked to numerous […]

China wine portfolios: Summergate adds Inglenook, Clarendon Hills, Henriot Champagne

December 6, 2012 // 0 Comments

By Jim Boyce During a recent stop in Beijing, Francis Ford Coppola, owner of Inglenook Estate in Napa Valley, said he paid more for the winery’s name than the land it is on. He also said he liked the movie Sideways much better than Bottle Shock. (Then again, who doesn’t?) More on Coppola soon, but for now a note that China-based importer and distributor Summergate is handling the label here and stocking the 2009 ‘Rubicon’ and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. From the press release (my highlights): “Inglenook Vineyards was originally founded in 1880 by Gustave Niebaum, a Finnish sea captain who […]

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